Mary's Hospital: For Your Health
“Colon Cancer Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to talk about something that isn’t necessarily the most pleasant thing to think about or discuss,” says Dr. Jared Pikus of St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics. “But the importance of screenings cannot be ignored. The “gold standard” for early detection is the Colonoscopy, but there are other less invasive methods available as well.”
“One of the most important things for everyone to know is that there doesn’t need to be immediate family history for someone to get colon cancer; it can affect anyone. I have a very personal reason for wanting to make sure everyone is getting screened for this deadly disease”, continued Dr. Pikus. “Last year my sister in law was diagnosed with colon cancer and we lost her one month later. She was 51 years old. Many times the symptoms are easy to miss until it’s too late.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people with colon cancer have no symptoms in the early stages. Signs and symptoms include:
A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool for more than a couple of weeks.
Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool.
Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain.
Abdominal pain with a bowel movement.
A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely.
Weakness or fatigue.
Unexplained weight loss.
Colon cancer can also be preceded by pre-cancerous lesions, which have a much better chance of being discovered and treated if you are receiving regular screenings. While colon cancer cannot be prevented, there is no doubt that early detection saves lives. Start prevention health screenings at age 50 or earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer or have other risk factors.